A father accused of shaking his baby to death has been exonerated, but not until after he spent 16 years of his life in prison for a crime that didn't happen. Zavion Johnson of Sacramento, California, was just 18 years old and the oldest of 7 children at the time that a tragic accident happened. He and his wife were parents of 4 month old Nadia. While he was bathing her in the shower, he dropped his baby and she hit her head on the bathtub. Doctors and investigators testified that the short fall could not have caused her death. They argued that the only explanation was that she had been violently abused. Shaken Baby Syndrome was their verdict. Zavion Johnson's devastated family testified in court on his behalf, describing him as loving, gentle, and patient, with plenty of experience in caring for children. They couldn't believe that he would have intentionally harmed his baby. After years of fighting as his own attorney (pro se) for his freedom, the Northern California Innocence Project got involved. Evidence was presented showing that there are other scientific explanations for the symptoms of Shaken Baby Syndrome. The conviction was vacated on December 18, 2017, and Zavion Johnson was released from prison. On January 19, 2018, the prosecution dismissed all of the charges against him. Zavion Johnson is now a free man, exonerated from a crime that he didn't commit, a crime that didn't actually happen. Not only did he lose his baby girl, he lost his freedom based on a medical theory that is now considered by many to be "junk science." How many more innocent fathers, mothers, and caregivers will be sentenced to prison, or lose their children to Child Protective Services, based on the medical myth of Shaken Baby Syndrome?
California Parents Lose Custody of 2-Year Old Daughter When Asking for a Second Opinion Before Removing Child’s Kidney
They thought they had the right to get a second opinion. They thought they had the right as parents to have proof of a diagnosis before agreeing to a treatment plan. When California parents Leah Beabout and Christopher Vega asked for medical evidence before doctors remove their 2 year old daughter's kidney, the hospital called Child Protective Services and seized custody of their child. It is the kind of thing that they, like most parents, thought "couldn't happen in America." But as we at Health Impact News have seen and documented, medical kidnappings like this happen regularly all over the United States of America. According to Leah: "I brought my daughter Grace Alleluia to the ER on vacation. Two weeks later, she has NO MOTHER, NO diagnosis, NO symptoms other than having lost 2 lbs, a large incision in her belly and a PORT hole in her chest for chemo she might not even need, a catheter in urinary tract, a breathing tube!??" A child who has never even had a baby-sitter before has been separated from her parents at what may be the most frightening time in her life, the very time that she needs her mommy and daddy the most. Leah says: "The hospital just didn't want us interfering with what they wanted to do and we were asking too many questions." As Grace's parents who love her and want the best for her, Leah and Chris simply wanted: 1. a valid second opinion, 2. the ability to make an informed decision as to treatment plan, including the right to choose the facility to treat her and the course of action to take, and 3. the right to have evidence of a diagnosis before agreeing to treatment. Do parents no longer have this right? If doctors don't want to provide these answers to the parents responsible for their child's care, is the new normal to call Child Protective Services and do the procedures they want to do anyway?
9th Circuit Court Upholds Parents’ Constitutional Rights: Rules Against Arizona Social Workers Removing Children without a Warrant
In what is seen as a victory for parental rights, the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled in favor of Arizona parents who had their 3 children removed from their home simply because they had taken photos of them after a bath when they were laying on a towel naked. They went to develop the photos at a Walmart, and an employee reported them to the police who were called in to investigate. The police investigation was extensive, including medical and forensic exams of the children looking for sexual abuse, as well as obtaining a warrant to search the family's home, where police "seized all the evidence that might be relevant to a child pornography investigation: computers, printers, photographs, cell phones, undeveloped film, floppy discs, DVDs, CDs, VHS tapes, and cameras." Police found no evidence of wrongdoing, so no charges were filed against the parents, and the children were returned home. However, Arizona social workers with a participating police detective decided to remove the young children from the home anyway, even without a court issued warrant. The children ended up in foster homes, but then later placed with their grandparents, and eventually returned home. The family sued the police detective and settled out of court, but Arizona courts ruled against the family suing the social workers citing state "Qualified Immunity" laws for social workers. The 9th Circuit disagreed, ruling that social workers are not above the law, and cannot violate the 4th and 14th Amendments, and that the courts have consistently ruled that families have a “well-elaborated constitutional right to live together without governmental interference.”
Baby Avyonna was a newborn nursing at her mother's breast when Alabama social workers seized her from the hospital and placed her into foster care almost 2 years ago. Now, finally, she is home with her parents Haly Boothe and Anthony Lett. She was taken by Shelby County Department of Human Resources (DHR) just 3 days after she was born. There were no allegations of abuse or neglect. Avyonna was taken because DHR said they had a pick-up order. Social workers believed they had the right to take the new baby since the department already had Haly's other 2 children Haydn and Ka'Myia in custody. During the course of the family's involvement with DHR, it became clear that the department had been planning all along to adopt Avyonna out. It was never about anything that Haly or Anthony did or didn't do. It was a foregone conclusion that the people who were adopting her siblings would adopt Avyonna as well. It was not until media attention from Health Impact News began to shine the light on what was happening with Shelby County DHR that there was any progress toward getting Avyonna home.
Tennessee Kidnaps 3 Boys from Mentally Disabled Mom – Refuses Grandmother Custody in Favor of Adoption to Strangers
A grandmother is fighting to save 2 generations of her family from abuse by the state of Tennessee. Through no fault of her own, her family is being ripped apart, in a terrifying sequence of events that could happen to anyone. She is afraid for 3 of her grandsons who were seized by Tennessee Department of Children's Services (DCS) from their mentally disabled mother. They have suffered horrific abuse in foster care. Now the state is attempting to sever all family ties so that they can adopt them out to strangers. She is also fearful for the life of her 33 year old daughter Tara, the boys' mother, whose mental illness became much worse after the boys were taken. When they learned of the abuse of the boys in foster care, the sense of utter helplessness to protect them pushed her daughter over the edge. The law provides for families to do what families do - for those members who are capable to step in and help other family members who are incapacitated in some way. However, in this family's case, the state seems determined to keep that from happening. The State of Tennessee has cut off all contact between the boys and their family, accusing the grandmother of not being "objective" because she believes that Tara would get better if she had a relationship with her children, and because she does not trust DCS and has repeatedly said that DCS "stole" her grandsons. In addition, the State wants to remove her as her daughter's conservator (guardian) and place her custody under the custody of a mental health doctor instead, thereby opening the door to remove all of her parental rights so they can adopt out her children.
In a dramatic turn of events, an Oregon judge has ruled that the children of Amy Fabbrini and Eric Zeigler must be returned home. They were taken by Child Protective Services on the grounds that their parents' IQ was too low to parent. There was no abuse. No neglect. There were only allegations by social workers that they were not clever enough to be parents of their own children. The boys, ages 4 and 10 months, were each seized within days of their births. The state had every intention of terminating their parents' parental rights and adopting them out. Health Impact News was the first to investigate and report their story. The public was rightfully outraged that the state had such unrestrained power, and word of their story spread into the mainstream press.
Arizona Court Refuses to Return Children Kidnapped from Nevada by Arizona Social Workers Back to Their Parents
Parents living in Nevada want their children back home. The children who were taken out of Nevada by Arizona social workers claim they have been abused in Arizona foster care, and want to go back to their parents. They even filed their own lawsuit, the first ever in Arizona, but an Arizona court has ruled against them. An Arizona appeals court has denied the parental rights of Nevada residents Jeff and Tabitha Shoars. Almost 17 months ago, Child Protective Services from Arizona crossed state lines and seized 6 of their children from Las Vegas, Nevada. All along, they have hoped and prayed for the justice which they felt would surely occur if only judges looked at the actual evidence instead of the hearsay and lies from social workers from Arizona Department of Child Safety (DCS). Instead, like so many other parents who have fought Arizona DCS, they were devastated to hear yet another court deny them their parental rights to the children they brought into the world. Tabitha and Jeff want their children to know that they love them and they are not giving up. If the children are able to access this article, their parents want to send them a message: "We are not giving up on you, no matter what. We are always going to fight for you. We are going to fight as long as there is breath within us. Mommy and Daddy love you so much, more than anything in the world. We will go to the moon and back, to the ends of the universe, to get you back. Don't ever give up on hope or faith. Keep believing."
Arizona Girl Raped and Burned in Foster Care Still Represented by Same Attorney – Kept Away from Family
An Arizona court decided this week that a woman accused of scalding a little girl alive and burning over 80% of her body will go to trial in October 2018. Meanwhile, Samantha Osteraas is out on bail, and the little girl's biological mother is still trying to get justice for her daughter, whose life was destroyed by Child Protective Services and the adults the agency placed her with. While Samantha Osteraas is free to walk the streets as she awaits trial, little Devani's real family has no idea where she is or who the agency has placed her with this time. The court-appointed attorney chosen to represent little Devani and allowed her to remain in foster homes where she was allegedly raped, sexually trafficked, and burned, is the same attorney still representing her today. The foster parents who committed such atrocities are now answering for their criminal acts in the legal system, but the government agencies that placed her there and kept her there until today, are apparently not being held responsible for their parts in these heinous crimes. Where is the justice?
Medical Murder? Massachusetts Woman Medically Kidnapped from Her Home Dies After Being Denied Medical Intervention
The fight to get court-appointed guardians and attorneys to allow 69 year old Beverley Finnegan to receive life-saving medical treatment has ended with her death just before noon on Friday, January 5, 2018. Her tragic death follows the one day that her sister and advocate Janet Pidge were not able to be by her side at Framington Union Hospital due to a brutal snowstorm. Beverley's condition was largely unchanged during the last several weeks, so the Friday morning phone call came as a shock. Family attorney Lisa Belanger calls it "euthanasia" - the hastening of Beverley Finnegan's death. Belanger attempted to file a criminal complaint on Saturday, since euthanasia is illegal in Massachusetts. However, the police denied her request, telling her to file medical malpractice instead. This woman who was functional, in full control of her mind, and able to walk and care for herself on her own just a few months ago is gone - another victim of guardianship, which allowed police to physically break down the door to her condo and admit her to a psych ward against her wishes and the wishes of her family. What really happened to Beverley Finnegan - both in the nursing home before her hospitalization and in the hospital during the snowstorm, during the time that her sister could not watch over her and try to protect her? Is there a cover-up happening of medical malpractice? What kind of benefit is there to those parties networked together? Why are there so many entities and individuals working to take away the basic human rights of senior citizens? How can citizens protect themselves from the tyrannical overreach of people operating under the color of law to take all their worldly goods as well as their very liberty? Is anyone safe? Beverley Finnegan's voice has been silenced. Will her death go unnoticed, or will it mean something? Who will speak out for justice for her and for countless others whose lives are being stolen?
Last weekend, the New Year rang in with smiles and tears of joy for an Oregon couple accused of child neglect over a legal medical marijuana harvest and a mother’s mental health. Kitrina’s daughter, Kaylynn, was returned home by Oregon Child Protective Services, the day before the Holiday weekend. The only reason Kaylynn was returned home was because Kitrina Nelson fired her court appointed public defender, Cole Sahleen. Like hundreds of other families who have told their stories to Health Impact News, Kitrina found that the court appointed attorney wanted her to play along while he made a pretense of advocating for her. Regardless of her limited knowledge of the law and court proceedings, and with a little guidance from the judge, who expressed surprise at the crowd of people that showed up to view the court proceedings, Kitrina successfully represented herself and cross examined her own case. After more than 3 hours of testimony and evidence, Judge Hung ruled that the state had no case against her, and that Kaylynn was to be returned home. Russ Belville documented the exuberance of emotion from the family upon hearing the ruling: "The sight of an average American family collapsing in each other’s arms weeping tears of joy for the return of their one-year-old daughter/cousin/granddaughter after 10 weeks of state captivity was the greatest holiday miracle I’ve ever experienced." Serra Frank reports: "Once again, I personally witnessed that an educated parent is the most powerful person in a courtroom!! Mama Bear roared and CPS ran around in circles! Justice and logic won the day...." Billy Fisher from the Fight for Lilly Foundation concluded: "Once a parent can see past the intimidation of the unknown in the court system, they can do anything. But it matters how you stand! I am so proud of Kitrina. She stood. She fought. She won. They have to Bring Kaylynn Home!"